Πέμπτη, 20 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012

marilena: Cold Hearted !!!

marilena: Cold Hearted !!!: A Greenpeace ship superimposes a design made from the flags of all 193 United Nation member countries on an ice floe North of the Arctic ...

Cold Hearted !!!

A Greenpeace ship superimposes a design made from the flags of all 193 United Nation member countries on an ice floe North of the Arctic Circle. The flags, arranged in the shape of a heart, are suspended a few centimeters above the ice's surface by wires. The activist organization conceived the project as an appeal to the United Nations General Assembly to take action to protect the Arctic.


marilena: Food with unexpected animal extras - in pictures.....

marilena: Food with unexpected animal extras - in pictures.....: A mouse found in a tin of Sainsbury's own-brand baked beans by Robert Howard, from Brockley, south-east London. According to the manufact...

Food with unexpected animal extras - in pictures.....

Foreign objects: A mouse found in a tin of supermarket baked beans
A mouse found in a tin of Sainsbury's own-brand baked beans by Robert Howard, from Brockley, south-east London. According to the manufacturer the creature had been cooked in the tin. Eek!
Foreign objects: A sealed plastic bag of lettuce containing a small frog in Ashkelon
A sealed plastic bag of lettuce was found to contain a small, somewhat desiccated frog in Ashkelon, Israel, in 2005
 Foreign objects: A mouse in a loaf of Hovis
This mouse was discovered in a loaf of Hovis Best of Both bread purchased online from Tesco by Stephen Forse of Kidlington in Oxfordshire in January 2009. Question is, does the 'guideline daily amounts' label visible below the unfortunate rodent tell you how many mice you should be eating?
Foreign objects: A mouse in a Hyndman's malt loaf
Looking like a grisly fossil, this mouse was discovered in a Hyndman's malt loaf bought from a supermarket in the Ballymoney area in 2007. The manufacturer was fined £1,000 plus costs for placing unsafe food on the market
Foreign objects: Werther's Original sweet riddled with dead ants
Taking top marks for making something cozy and comforting utterly revolting is this Werther's Original boiled sweet riddled with dead ants unwrapped by Clare Turton of Solihull Lodge, West Midlands
Foreign objects: A dead mouse found in a Uncle Ben's Express Basmati Rice ready meal
This particularly offensive dead mouse was found in a Uncle Ben's Express Basmati Rice ready meal by Lorraine Hughes from Bartley Green, Birmingham. Slow down, Uncle Ben. Just slow down
Foreign objects: A dead frog in their bag of Tesco spinach by Sarah Moss from Shoreditch
The current flavour of the month, a dead frog found in a bag of Tesco spinach and incorporated into a salad by Sarah Moss, 26, from Shoreditch. There's more on this particular delight over on Word of Mouth
Foreign objects: A small grey mouse lies frozen inside the sliced loaf of bread
A small grey mouse found inside loaf of sliced bread in Israel. The well-known bakery which made the bread claims the mouse did not enter the loaf in the bakery but after the loaf left its premises. It certainly doesn't looked cooked, but whether that's better or worse than the alternative is a bit of a moot point
Foreign objects: Newly born mouse in loaf
In 2004 British Bakeries in Avonmouth, Bristol were fined £7,000 after a sliced loaf purchased by a member of public was found to contain a couple of dead baby mice, rodent droppings and rodent hair. Leaving court, the woman who made the gruesome discovery said it had put her off bread for some time. An argument for baking your own, perhaps?


marilena: Greece embarks on a firesale

marilena: Greece embarks on a firesale: Islands, palaces royal estates and embassies must go as fears grow that country has entered full-blown depression Greece's faded gl...

Greece embarks on a firesale

Islands, palaces royal estates and embassies must go as fears grow that country has entered full-blown depression

Tatoi palace

Greece's faded glory: the dilapidated Tatoi palace is one of many properties up for sale in a national 'firesale' of assets. Photograph: AP
When you hit hard times, it is time to pawn or part with the family silver – and an unprecedented clearout is now under way in Athens.
Greece has announced it will sell anything it can do without – and in the case of the debt-choked nation that means letting go of islands, royal palaces, prime real estate, marinas, airports, roads, the state-owned gas company, lottery and post office. Indeed anything, really, that can be sold.
On Wednesday, the nation learned the downsizing would also include diplomatic residences abroad – starting with the Victorian townhouse that was once the Greek consul general's residence in London.
"There is a decision to lease and sell properties that for various reasons are not being used," said Gregory Dalevekouras, spokesman at the foreign ministry. The foreign ministry's finance department, he said, was hard at work evaluating "market conditions".
The sell-off emerged just a day after Athens's finance minister revealed what most Greeks feared but had never been officially told – that with national income projected to fall 25% by 2014 their economy is not just shrinking but slipping inexorably into a 1930s-style Depression. And officials are now working frantically to get the mother of all firesales off the ground.
For potential buyers of ambassadorial homes and consul's quarters, the good news is that the foreign ministry is fully aware of what and where the properties are – unlike the Greek state, which until recently was still struggling to attain an inventory of what it actually owned given the lack of a proper land registry.
High-end estate agents are already being sounded out to sell the 10,000 square foot consular residence in London's upscale Holland Park – which is currently being renovated.
Property experts say homes similar to the 115-year-old stucco-fronted townhouse fetch rents of around £25,000 a week and could sell for as much as £12m. Richard Branson, a neighbour, put his own home on the market for £17m last year.
Since the outbreak of Greece's great economic crisis in late 2009, the country's diplomatic presence abroad, like so much else, has been dramatically scaled back as governments have sought to rake in expenditure. The consulate in London, home to a thriving Greek community, was one such victim.
In what will be surely be sad news for another UK resident, Constantine, the former king of Greece, officials have also let slip that the Tatoi palace, the royal family's historic estate at the foot of Mount Parnitha, will be sold off too.
The property, acquired by the family in 1871, was originally set in gardens laid out to "provide the typical charms of both the Greek and English countryside" and, as such, comes with some 40 outbuildings, stables, a swimming pool and several royal graves. Shortly after it was built outside Athens, Prince Christopher wrote that it was the only place where "we could forget that we were not supposed to be ordinary human beings." An array of old Rolls-Royces, and other paraphernalia that once belonged to Constantine before he was forced to flee into exile, can still be glimpsed on its now dilapidated premises.
The sell-off, which will include buildings in Brussels and Belgrade, Rome and Nicosia, is part of a privatisation campaign that may well be the most ambitious ever conducted on the continent of Europe. With Athens' debt load still at a whopping 166% of GDP – despite banks and hedge funds and other private creditors accepting a massive writedown in the value of their Greek holdings – the country has agreed to raise €19bn by 2015. Earlier this year, the cash-strapped culture ministry even announced it would make the Acropolis more "readily available" for photographers and film crews. Previously, the ancient site had been regarded as "too sacred' to rent out or besmirch with commercial use.
This month the conservative-led coalition, in power since June, declared that it had also pinpointed at least 40 uninhabited islands which it planned to lease out for the development of "tourism ventures".
Officials are not hiding that the drive has been spurred to great degree by the desire to placate the international lenders that are keeping the country afloat.
Since filing for its first €110bn bailout in May 2010, Greece has made almost no progress with its promise to press on with reforms. On the privatisation front, officials have invariably encountered the resistance of unions and political parties not only opposed to the arduous terms of the loan agreements but the sale of prized possessions regarded as "the family silver".
For many Greeks, the new drive is the most humiliating development yet in a process of brutal fiscal realignment that has seen poverty and unemployment hit record levels. "Foreigners have been allowed to occupy our country and now they are going to buy up our country at rock-bottom prices," Notis Marias, the parliamentary representative of the vehemently anti-bailout Independent Greeks party railed in parliament.
But government officials starting with Kostis Hadzidakis, who, as minister of development, is leading the campaign, say desperate times call for desperate measures. "We are in a war situation and we are all soldiers in civilian clothes," Hadzidakis recently averred.
With Athens's future in the eurozone still on the line – despite assurances from the EU's powerhouse, Germany, that it wants to keep the country in the bloc – Greek officials are acutely aware that time is against them. Making clear the privatisation programme is now the cornerstone of the government's economic policy, the newly installed privatisation chief this week called on investors to take up the rich pickings. Greece, he said, was set to become an El Dorado for those who did so.

Europe's family silver

The eurozone's weakest members have been selling off the family silver since the crisis began.
Portugal Raised nearly €3bn (£2.4bn) selling part of a power company to China's Three Gorges Corporation. A Chinese-Oman partnership snapped up a stake in Portugal's power and gas grid operator. Its national airline, TAP, and the post office are now up for grabs.
Ireland Hopes to raise €3bn selling off assets. Bidding for the right to run a new national lottery starts next month, and a stake in Aer Lingus is also up for grabs. It is also offering to sell parts of the country's Electricity Supply Board, and some of its forests.
Spain Hoped to raise €7bn selling a stake in the lottery, El Gordo – "the fat one", but no big bids were forthcoming. Madrid is now hoping to find buyers for various tourism sites and transport operators - and has put 100 office buildings on the block.
Italy In June, Italy agreed to sell €10bn of undefined assets, but progress is slow.


Τρίτη, 18 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012


Germany in numbers

They call their children Max and Sophie, love crime series and are as besotted as we are with Fifty Shades of Grey. But when it comes to data, Germany habitually outperforms the rest of the world..


Germany accidental empire badge



marilena: DOES THE INTERNET MAKE YOU DUMB? TOP GERMAN NEUROS...: Plenty are convinced the Internet is filled with intellectual vitamins - (San Jose Library) By Claudia Ehrenstein DIE WELT /Worldcrunch ...


Does The Internet Make You Dumb? Top German Neuroscientist Says Yes - And Forever

Plenty are convinced the Internet is filled with intellectual vitamins - (San Jose Library)
By Claudia Ehrenstein
DIE WELT/Worldcrunch
BERLIN - Dr. Manfred Spitzer knows that people find his arguments provocative. In his first book, he warned parents of the very real dangers of letting their children spend too much time in front of the TV. Now, in a second book called Digitale Demenz [Digital Dementia], he’s telling them that teaching young kids finger-counting games is much better for them than letting them explore on a laptop.
Spitzer, 54, may be a member of the slide-rule generation that learned multiplication tables by heart, but his work as a neuropsychiatrist has shown him that when young children spend too much time using a computer, their brain development suffers and that the deficits are irreversible and cannot be made up for later in life.
South Korean doctors were the first to describe this phenomenon, and dubbed it digital dementia – whence the title of Spitzer’s book. Simplistically, the message can be summed up this way: the Internet makes you dumb. And it is of course a message that outrages all those who feel utterly comfortable in the digital world. In the aftermath of the publication of Spitzer’s book, they have lost no time venting their wrath across Germany.
And yet Spitzer has accumulated a wealth of scientific information that gives his thesis solid underpinnings, and the studies and data he draws on offer more than enough room for consternation.
Everything leaves traces in the brain
According to his study, many young people today use more than one medium at a time: they place calls while playing computer games or writing e-mails. That means that some of them are packing 8.5 hours of media use per day into 6.5 hours. Multitasking like this comes at the cost of concentration – experiments by American researchers have established this. And to Spitzer, those results mean just one thing: "Multitasking is not something we should be encouraging in future generations."
Because everything a person does leaves traces in the brain. When development is optimum, memory links are formed and built on during the first months and years of life, and the structure adds up to a kind of basic foundation for everything else we learn. Scientists call this ability of the brain to adjust to new challenges “neuroplasticity.” It is one of the reasons for the evolutionary success of the human species. Spitzer also sees it as a source of present danger.
When drivers depend exclusively on their navigation technology, they do not develop the ability to orient themselves, although of course the brain offers them the possibility of learning how to do so. The same applies to children who use electronic styluses on a SMART board instead of learning how to write -- the brain is kept in check. And because computers take over many classrooms and other functions that are actually good practice for kids, "it inevitably has a negative effect on learning," Spitzer argues.
Digital media should be banned from classrooms
Stating that there have so far been no independent studies "that unequivocally establish that computers and screens in the classroom makes learning any more effective," Spitzer goes so far as to recommend that digital media be banned from the classroom. Even more drastically, he writes: "In reality, using digital media in kindergarten or primary school is actually a way of getting children addicted." Strong stuff for the generations who take computers and the Internet for granted, using them as a source of information and a space to communicate via social networks -- and who enjoy doing so. The Internet has become the fourth cultural technology, alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.
Spitzer quotes Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827), who wrote that the process of learning involves the heart along with the brain and the hands. He believes it would be better if kids learned finger games to help them deal with numbers, instead of relying on computers. In a country like Germany, whose major resource is smart people and innovative ideas, maybe we should be taking Spitzer’s warnings more seriously.
All rights reserved ©Worldcrunch - in partnership with DIE WELT